Environmental issues have been a huge problem for decades. It is important to learn how to be more sustainable in various aspects of our lives, especially in our world of climate change. For students whose majors fall within the School of Construction and Design this may mean becoming a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (or LEED) Green Associate.
The LEED Program, created by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC), is designed to create a set of international guidelines for others to build green buildings around. After spending a few months in an officially credited LEED program, a LEED Green Associate is able to build or modify buildings to better fit these environmentally friendly guidelines.
As the official USGBC website explains, “The LEED Green Associate credential designates individuals who have a documented, up-to-date understanding of the most current green building principles and practices. The LEED Green Associate is a foundational credential and for many it is the first step before earning advanced credentials such as the LEED AP with specialty.”
Naturally, there are many benefits to receiving a LEED Associate certification.
“For no other reason than to have people have education about the importance of greenhouse gases [and] sustainability… [of] course I think it’ll be good to put on their resume when they go look for a job,” said Professor Leffi Cewe-Malloy, an LEED Accredited Professional and the Architectural Engineering Technology Program Coordinator.
Southern Miss hosts its own student chapter of the USGBC. The President of this chapter, Claude Schaller, became a LEED Associate his freshman year. Schaller explained the Southern Miss LEED chapter’s mission, as well as the importance of a LEED certification.
“The main point of the club is to just get construction kids to realize that green building is a thing cause we don’t have any classes about it in our program,” said Schaller. “USGBC can be the first step to them [students in the School of Construction and Design] getting into sustainability, getting into green building.”
Any student can take the LEED Green Associate exam. The exam itself consists of 100 multiple choice questions, and, depending on your USGBC membership and schooling status, can cost anywhere from $100 to $250. The Southern Miss LEED chapter helps with exam prep and further informs people about the program.
“We’ve been able to get a person certified in LEED every year [since] the club has been a thing,” Schaller said.
However, students outside the School of Construction and Design can also receive a different type of Green certification. Licensure majors can also receive a LEED certification through the Green Classroom Professional program.
According to the USGBC’s website, “The Green Classroom Professional certificate provides foundational knowledge of green building and the LEED green building rating system in the context of a school setting.”
The certification gives preference to teachers and faculty in K-12 schools, but it is open to anyone interested in new sustainability practices. It also provides a brief and condensed version of the material for the LEED Green Associate, which can be further expanded upon if someone wants to obtain a full certification.
Whether you become certified as LEED Green Associate or as a Green Classroom Professional, learning more about eco-friendly practices can be beneficial in the workforce, at home and the community.